Chain maintenance

es330
es330 Posts: 46
edited February 2010 in Road beginners
Anyone tried and tested any chain cleaners?

I was looking at the Park CM5 Chain Cleaning Kit but at £28 I want to be able to justify the spend. The White Lightning Trigger Chain Cleaner is around £22. Anyone had experiene of either?

Cheers
Trek 2.3 2010
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Comments

  • ride_whenever
    ride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    I wouldn't use either, tend to be messy (muck goes everywhere) and not as effective as a careful scrub in the sink with a dash of your de-greaser of choice.

    Try not to soak chains as it isn't great for them. Regular cleaning of the outside with prevent ingress of dirt and they'll run happier for it.
  • Headhuunter
    Headhuunter Posts: 6,494
    I spray my chain liberally with Decathlon degreaser to start with, then leave for a few mins. Then I just tend to use an old washing up brush and warm water with a little Ecover washing up liquid and give it a scrubbing. If it's really grubby I squirt washing up liquid straight onto the brush as well. Soon gets the chain sparkly and clean. Then I rinse it off with warm water or possibly gently hose the washing up liquid off, then dry it with an old towel and regrease. Done. Everyone goes on about salt in washing up liquid but I've never had any probs with Ecover.
    Do not write below this line. Office use only.
  • es330
    es330 Posts: 46
    a careful scrub in the sink with a dash of your de-greaser of choice.

    Thanks

    Always been a bit apprehensive about taking my chain off. Had numerous problems with my mtb. Could really do with attending a bike maintenance course. If only they had these sort of sessions around Preston!
    Trek 2.3 2010
  • Headhuunter
    Headhuunter Posts: 6,494
    es330 wrote:
    a careful scrub in the sink with a dash of your de-greaser of choice.

    Thanks

    Always been a bit apprehensive about taking my chain off. Had numerous problems with my mtb. Could really do with attending a bike maintenance course. If only they had these sort of sessions around Preston!

    You don't need to take the chain off to clean it, unless it's really, really grotty...
    Do not write below this line. Office use only.
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    No. Always thought they looked like a real faff, and way too expensive.

    I just turn the pedals backwards and run the chain through a rag slightly moistened with white spirit till it looks clean, then lube liberally and repeat the wiping with a clean rag.

    Occasionally the chain comes off for a more thorough clean and relube. KMC quick links are your friend.
  • CiB
    CiB Posts: 6,098
    Tools:
    Bottle of Muc-Off or similar, dilute to taste.
    2 x Chinese take-away tubs; clean, empty
    1 x toothbrush. Not your own, ideally not your wife's either.
    Paper kitchen towel roll

    Remove chain, leave to soak in one tub of dilute cleaner for ½ an hour or so.

    Work along the chain with the toothbrush scrubbing as much gunge as you can from the visible side & links. The cleaner chain end ends up in the empty pot.

    Flip it over, repeat on other side of chain. Be thorough.

    Rinse the tubs & chain under the outside tap to wash away all remaining crap & cleaner. Wipe the chain & tubs clean & dry with kitchen roll.

    Put the chain in the now clean tub and soak it in 3 In 1 oil or similar for a while. Flip it over to get an even & thorough soaking and to allow the oil to get in the nooks & crannies.

    Wipe the chain with a paper kitchen towel just before refitting to remove excess oil.
  • rhext
    rhext Posts: 1,639
    Well, I use a chain cleaner. I got the white lightening one, but don't bother with the spray any more. Just fill it up with neat Fenwicks, clamp on to the chain, spin and leave for a couple of minutes. Then refill it with hot soapy water, and spin with several changes of water until the waste is clean(ish) - this is important as it cleans out the chain cleaner as well as rinsing the chain. You can do it with a toothbrush, in the sink, with a rag - whatever. But the chain cleaner does make it pretty easy and if it broke, I think I'd replace it. Don't know whether it's 'bad' for the chain or not....but once re-lubed it seems to work alright.

    It is messy though and needs to be done outside. I should probably worry about the environmental impact of the waste liquid....but given that I don't put the crud on in the first place, I reckon it's already out there ;-)
  • I just bought a Muc-Off chain doc and think it's the best thing since sliced bread. Was wondering why I hadn't bought one years ago and I think it was because of posts like those above! The Muc-Off thang cost £18 and for me it's worth every penny (assuming it doesn't fall apart prematurely) but if you have more time/patience or are more thrifty than your view may be different.
  • gaz545
    gaz545 Posts: 493
    i use the park tools chain cleaner, it's only messy when you stop turning the chain and you let it drip everwhere. old newspaper under the bike does the trick. I do it once a week.
  • rake
    rake Posts: 3,204
    they do the best cleaning job despite what people say. the brushes on a moving chain with solvent gets the lot out. use parrafin it much cheaper than bike degreaser. if your worried about it dripping just hold a rag around the chain where it comes out of the cleaner as you turn the pedals. wipe it dry when done and give it time for the solvent to evaporate. i can do it without any mess on the bike and only a few drips on the floor. my winter bikes done 3500 miles on only its second chain ,same block , lots of miles left yet. its also by far the quickest way.
  • Scrumple
    Scrumple Posts: 2,665
    they do work

    get one.

    messing with rags is for poor people with too much time.
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    I'm a poor person with too little time. I do however have a lot of rags.
  • Scrumple
    Scrumple Posts: 2,665
    keef66 wrote:
    I'm a poor person with too little time. I do however have a lot of rags.

    Borrow one then, my advice....

    Burn the rags for heat.
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    keef66 wrote:
    I'm a poor person with too little time. I do however have a lot of rags.

    +1 ...... I never take my chain off for cleaning(only for throwing away). Have never used one of the NEW chain cleaners. I wipe with a clean dry rag once a week. More if it's nasty out. Relube, wipe off excess, ride. Takes 10 minutes at best. Drivetrain is quiet as a mouse with no problems. Waste of time and effort doing anything more IMHO.
  • CiB
    CiB Posts: 6,098
    It's a good excuse to be in the garage out of the way for an hour. When you're older you'll appreciate that. :wink:
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    dennisn wrote:
    keef66 wrote:
    I'm a poor person with too little time. I do however have a lot of rags.

    +1 ...... I never take my chain off for cleaning(only for throwing away). Have never used one of the NEW chain cleaners. I wipe with a clean dry rag once a week. More if it's nasty out. Relube, wipe off excess, ride. Takes 10 minutes at best. Drivetrain is quiet as a mouse with no problems. Waste of time and effort doing anything more IMHO.
    ABSOLUTELY! I have done all the chain cleaner device / taking chain off & soaking nonsense, but I have seen the light - its for those with OCD, for the rest of us, quiet, smooth, long lasting drivetrains can be achieved with little time or expense.
  • Velonutter
    Velonutter Posts: 2,437
    dennisn wrote:
    keef66 wrote:
    I'm a poor person with too little time. I do however have a lot of rags.

    +1 ...... I never take my chain off for cleaning(only for throwing away). Have never used one of the NEW chain cleaners. I wipe with a clean dry rag once a week. More if it's nasty out. Relube, wipe off excess, ride. Takes 10 minutes at best. Drivetrain is quiet as a mouse with no problems. Waste of time and effort doing anything more IMHO.

    +1 It is not always a good idea to totally degrease your chain, as it can take some time to get it lubricated properly.

    I wipe thoroughly, then spray and soak after every single ride with GT85
  • rake
    rake Posts: 3,204
    its easy to relube. i spay it back on 30s max. motorcycle chain lube. a chain cost as much as a cleaner anyway so rags are just as costly WHEN it wears out faster.
  • Mossrider
    Mossrider Posts: 226
    Used to use a degreaser, but I too have seen the light. It only takes a few minutes with a rag and a quick relube and away you go. Far less faffing. every time it gets wet is my rule.
  • rake
    rake Posts: 3,204
    the lightt of shite maintenance.
  • rally200
    rally200 Posts: 646
    CiB wrote:
    It's a good excuse to be in the garage out of the way for an hour. When you're older you'll appreciate that. :wink:

    You lucky sod, allowed to spend an hour in the garage on your own.

    after ten minutes I start to hear the dulcet tones of my other half doing her best Sybil Fawlty impression "Basil,... BASIL....BASIL!!

    hence the chain on my commuter is f*cked: bright orange and half the rollers seized - still its only 8 speed & cheap as chips
  • Scrumple
    Scrumple Posts: 2,665
    When I grow old I want a shed with a bottle of whisky in, and a retired "fluffer" chained to the shelving.

    And a knife, and some wood to whittle.
  • desweller
    desweller Posts: 5,175
    dennisn wrote:
    keef66 wrote:
    I'm a poor person with too little time. I do however have a lot of rags.

    +1 ...... I never take my chain off for cleaning(only for throwing away). Have never used one of the NEW chain cleaners. I wipe with a clean dry rag once a week. More if it's nasty out. Relube, wipe off excess, ride. Takes 10 minutes at best. Drivetrain is quiet as a mouse with no problems. Waste of time and effort doing anything more IMHO.

    +2 I never remove my chain for cleaning. It's a bicycle chain FFS. The tolerances in there are like a prick in a bucket. If they weren't you'd only be able to use about three combinations of gears. Wipe, relube, wipe up excess, done.
    - - - - - - - - - -
    On Strava.{/url}
  • lae
    lae Posts: 555
    Do chain cleaners work on singlespeed bikes? Can you move the rear wheel in enough to get a slack enough chain to go through the rollers?

    To do my chain quickly I blast with GT85, wipe with rag, then lube and wipe off excess.

    To clean it properly I just take it off and drop it in a bottle of diesel overnight, and in the morning swill it around. Then remove and put it another bottle of warm water and washing up liquid. Swill it around and repeat until the water runs clear (only takes two or three goes). Then lube as normal. Comes out absolutely pristine.
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    Do chain cleaners work on singlespeed bikes? Can you move the rear wheel in enough to get a slack enough chain to go through the rollers?

    To do my chain quickly I blast with GT85, wipe with rag, then lube and wipe off excess.

    To clean it properly I just take it off and drop it in a bottle of diesel overnight, and in the morning swill it around. Then remove and put it another bottle of warm water and washing up liquid. Swill it around and repeat until the water runs clear (only takes two or three goes). Then lube as normal. Comes out absolutely pristine.

    I think the only question I have is "Is PRISTINE(i.e. very little lube deep inside the rollers) a good thing"???
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    no
  • Always been a bit apprehensive about taking my chain off. Had numerous problems with my mtb. Could really do with attending a bike maintenance course. If only they had these sort of sessions around Preston![/quote]

    If you can get to Lancaster the city council run free maintenance workshops I think
  • rake
    rake Posts: 3,204
    dennisn wrote:
    Do chain cleaners work on singlespeed bikes? Can you move the rear wheel in enough to get a slack enough chain to go through the rollers?

    To do my chain quickly I blast with GT85, wipe with rag, then lube and wipe off excess.

    To clean it properly I just take it off and drop it in a bottle of diesel overnight, and in the morning swill it around. Then remove and put it another bottle of warm water and washing up liquid. Swill it around and repeat until the water runs clear (only takes two or three goes). Then lube as normal. Comes out absolutely pristine.

    I think the only question I have is "Is PRISTINE(i.e. very little lube deep inside the rollers) a good thing"???
    its better than grit inside the rollers. oil goes back i anyway if you use a solvent oil. thats the purpose of it.
  • rhext
    rhext Posts: 1,639
    So....in summary. Chain cleaners work, but you don't need them to get a chain sparkly clean.

    Getting a chain sparkly clean in the first place is not necessarily a good thing, but it might be!

    I bet you're sorry you asked now ;-)
  • rake
    rake Posts: 3,204
    if its not too dirty il wipe the chain a couple of rides so dont fully clean every time. when it gets quite grotty i give it a machine clean. dont care how it looks but its better to have all foreign matter off every so often as with most mechanical things like grit in an engine. wiping it is certainly better than nothing and will give good service life but not as much so i believe. you do have to be sure to put the oil back in and the thicker the better generally.